Dear Friends and Colleagues,
When I first joined Dalberg in 2001, we were small group of private-sector consultants looking to identify and solve global challenges. Our team now numbers over 150 people working from eleven offices – and the commitment and passion behind our mission has only gotten stronger with time. As 2012 came to a close, I found myself reflecting on the past year as one of significant growth for Dalberg, not just in size but also in skills, influence, and global reach.
We have spent the past 12 months working on projects in a wide variety of sectors. We helped raise funds toward private sector development in Burundi, and worked with the Citi and Skoll Foundations to find ways to meet demand for smallholder financing. We worked with large private sector companies on issues ranging from improving global access to technology to catalyzing the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises in South Africa, while also working with grassroots NGOs at the community level. We have also seen projects from previous years – such as our engagement to create a scholarship program with the MasterCard Foundation and Equity Bank – continue to make a difference for underserved populations around the world.
These projects represent just a small portion of the diverse clients, engagements, and countries we’ve had the privilege of working with. This year, our experiences led to our first-ever compendium of ideas, titled Fund This, Not That, containing lessons and insights we’ve drawn from a decade of international development projects. I am looking forward to taking the lessons learned from developing that first compilation and finding even more ways for Dalberg to influence the development agenda beyond our client engagements.
Perhaps the most exciting development in 2012 for me was seeing the vision of Dalberg as a broader platform for positive development impact take real shape. We saw D. Capital build on its solid first year to become a dynamic, innovative new team whose capabilities and reputation are creating new opportunities for us around the world. We also saw Dalberg Research go from a high-level concept into a full-fledged global team that already shows signs of that same rapid growth trajectory.
A big part of our long-term vision for Dalberg is to become a mechanism for attracting and strengthening development leaders. This year, we had several examples of colleagues who exemplified taking our values and skills and applying them in new roles. Among the most notable is former partner Daniella Ballou-Aares, who stepped away from leading our US team to serve as a senior advisor in the US State Department. We also saw Shashi Buluswar enter a new role as Director of LIGTT. Both remain strongly committed to the Dalberg mission, and we are proud of the new approaches they are taking to influence international development.
In keeping with the theme of transitions, the end of this year marks the end of Andrew Stern’s highly impactful tenure as Global Operating Partner. As he steps back into his preferred role as a fully client-focused partner, we welcome Paul Callan as our new GOP and Lee Rom in the newly created role of COO. I am sure they will ably step into Andrew’s big shoes and build on the great foundation he has laid for the firm’s operational excellence.
My personal highlight of this busy year, though, was the incredible experience of getting the whole team together in Naivasha for our global retreat. It underlined not just how far we have come, but also how far we have to go if we are to realize our shared ambition to really change the world. But above all, it reminded me again just how lucky I am to work with an inspired group of smart colleagues whose diversity is only matched by their dedication to pursuing positive impact in the world. It has been a privilege working with all of you this year and I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish.
Here is to making 2013 an even more successful year.
Warmest wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year,